Oak tree with biggest Acorns for Georgia?

girlgroupgirl(8 ATL)April 29, 2009

Which type of oak tree has the biggest acorns in Georgia?

I want to plant some oaks for their usefulness,



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Perhaps Quercus michauxii, Swamp chestnut oak. A member of the white oak group (so acorns are tastier to animals plus they sprout early on the ground), it has acorns that are 1 - 1.5 inches long.

Quercus macrocarpa, Bur oak, might have larger acorns, but it doesn't naturally grow in Georgia.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2009 at 1:11PM
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usefulness for what exactly? Wildlife? If that is the case, you'll want a variety. Some acorns have very thin shells and wildlife will eat them immediately - they don't store well and are most likely to get borer type bugs. The borers are a big deal, too. They can wipe out a crop quickly. Other acorns with thicker shells get stored for winter food. Some sprout too easily, these are also eaten immediately. For wildlife it's not the acorn size at all. A critter such as a squirrel needs acorns year round, so needs both types as acorns have taurine in them which squirrels require in their diet. Birds such as jays who eat acorns behave in a similar fashion.

I had a gray squirrel for 13 years, his absolute favorite were the smallest, hard dark ones with orange meat. They were very small. I'd have to figure out exactly which oak it was they came from. The big acorns were thin shelled. If you can only plant one oak, I would recommend the hard shells, which will be a smaller acorn.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2009 at 3:22PM
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girlgroupgirl(8 ATL)

No. For me to eat. I am looking at increasing my food sources and many of our acorns are fairly small. I would like them to be considered "sweet" and to offer a food space of approximately an inch or longer but not be an invasive plant species.
Since I do not eat gluten, milling acorns into flour would be very advantageous.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2009 at 10:55PM
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Very interesting GGG

Would please you explaine a little more about:

1- Which oak acorns are edible?
2- How do you process them?
3- Are they/any of them toxic if eaten raw?

Thanks in advance.


    Bookmark   April 30, 2009 at 7:27AM
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Then you definitely want something in the white oak group as the lower tannin content makes them more palatable.

Oaks are broadly divided into two groups: red (or black) oaks, and white. Generally, nuts from trees in the red-oak group have a bitter taste, thanks to their high content of tannin, an astringent substance. White oaks, however, contain less tannin and produce acorns that are considerably sweeter.

Here is a link that might be useful: Fall Field Guide Nuts

    Bookmark   April 30, 2009 at 9:05AM
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girlgroupgirl - that is interesting! A million questions come to mind instantly but maybe I should do a bit of reading on the topic. Do many people do this? Is this a personal project or group? Acorns are so bitter, but I have had breads made out of it and it was great. Different, but good.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2009 at 8:52PM
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girlgroupgirl(8 ATL)

Not many people eat acorns. It takes a long time to process them and yes, I am aware that the best Oak trees in the South have the smallest acorns of almost anywhere in the US. This is a personal project and I will be making a special machine to crack the acorns. You soak the open acorns to get rid of tannins and you soak several times. Then you dry and grind. I know someone who is doing this and she is perfecting the machine.
Why would I do this? Because I want to create food sources that are close to my home either wild foraged or homegrown and I would like to eventually become less dependent upon buying my food items. To save some money I bake my own breads and foods - everything that is normally made with flour like: breads, muffins and all baked goods, tortillas, crackers - everything because being gluten free is expensive. There is not a lot of reading about saving and processing acorns, but apparently someone once wrote a book about it.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2009 at 10:59PM
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I will be making a special machine to crack the acorns

seriously, please take photos. I would be interested for the sake of knowledge.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2009 at 1:21PM
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girlgroupgirl(8 ATL)

Laylaa, you do realize it will take me 10 years or so to get acorns off of a tree planted this fall. I have lots of time to perfect the machine :)


    Bookmark   May 1, 2009 at 3:31PM
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Nope, girlgroupgirl, I had no idea. Sorry - thought you were working on something. You have more patience than I, and I am outside trying to create habitat for a baby box turtle that shares my property. You know, so I can see him grow up to be a big strong turtle one decade.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2009 at 6:48PM
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Get a trunk of tree (OAK2- drill, carve semispherical compartments all over it, spaced at about inch and half apart; SUCH that when you put an acorn in each/everyone of them, the nuts are half buried.

2- Get whole bunch of acorn/nuts puting one in every compartent.

3- get a hammer or better yetwooden mallet(MADE OUT OF OAK !?) and bang on all of them.
bang-bang-bang-.... bang.
this would be very fast. But you have to get the hang of how hard to bang them witout crushing the nuts.
4- now pick the nuts, sweep the table and repeat until you are done (or tired?!).
It is possible to make this nut cracr semi-automatic.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2009 at 10:57PM
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I had read somewhere (Natural History Magazine?) that the indigenous California tribes, in particular, used acorns as a large part of their diet. This is a very interesting concept given we live in an area where little grows better than oak trees.

I looked them up in my tree books and it seems that White Oaks are more likely to have kernels with less tannin in them than those of Black Oaks, making processing less tedious and time consuming. Happily, many of the largest kernels also belong to this group:

Burr Oak: 1.5-2 inches
Chestnut Oak: 1.25-1.5 inches, sweetish kernel
Yellow Oak: 1.5-1 inch, sweet kernel
Dwarf Chinquapin Oak: .5-.75 inch, sweet
Swamp White Oak: 1-1.5" inch, sweet

Living in town, you should be able to identify many of these in your neighborhood and harvest the acorns with the permission of the homeowner....or find them in parks. No waiting for the oaks one plants to mature!

    Bookmark   May 2, 2009 at 8:23PM
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girlgroupgirl(8 ATL)

Oh, I don't have to worry about identifying. I just have to tell my neighbor who is with Trees Atlanta what I need. Then voila, like magic I can have the tree planted in my yard :) Thanks NippersDad, that is a nice list.
I do already harvest some acorns from sidewalks (but not enough to need a machine yet), churches, friends..also pecans & other nuts, mulberries and other fruits. I need to get bigger baskets and saddle bags for my bike! Somedays I can get a real haul. I use the nuts for baking and to make my own nut milks.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2009 at 11:51PM
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Funny you posted this, because I found a giant acorn yesterday out here in Kansas. ( I head back east Tues.)

Here is a link that might be useful: bur oak

    Bookmark   May 3, 2009 at 1:02PM
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I have a giant oak behind my house in Grant Park that produces vast quantities of 1.25 inch ebony acorns. Both Trees Atlanta and another arborist shrugged and thought it was some sort of white oak. I don't know if they're sweet or not, but the squirrels love them. If you want a seedling, let me know. I'm pulling them out by the dozen!

    Bookmark   May 4, 2009 at 5:46PM
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girlgroupgirl(8 ATL)

Scotlanta, yes, please save me one!!!

    Bookmark   May 4, 2009 at 11:43PM
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Sorry for the delay! Between moving in the chicken coop and taking the kids camping at a music festival last weekend, I forgot to get back to you. Why don't you send me an e-mail (jmacgregor@mindspring.com) so we can figure out how to get a tree to you?

    Bookmark   May 14, 2009 at 9:36AM
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In Gainesville, Florida, the best acorns to eat are probably from the live oak (Quercus virginiana). They are not the largest by far, but some of them are quite delicious. I know of one tree in particular that we eat roasted with no leaching. We dump a few handfulls of acorns into a thing of water and scoop off the floaters. The floaters are often parasitized or bad for some other reason. The sinkers, we tossed into a wok and roasted them over a fire, stirring, until they started to steam. Some of the kernels were very hard, but they were delicious. I've tried some from other trees that were not very good.

The swamp chestnut oak has the largest fruit by far, and area supposedly edible raw. Other white oak types you can find around here are white oak (Quercus alba), and b_a_s_t_a_r_d white oak (Quercus austrina). Chapman oak (Q. chapmanii) grows in scrublands, sand live oak (Q. geminata) grows in scrubs, sandhills, scrubby flatwoods, beaches, and other dry areas. Overcup oak Q. lyrata, which grows prinicpally along the Suwanee River around here. Myrtle oak, Q. myrtifolia is another shrubby scrub oak.

A friend of mine is growing burr oak for food, but they're still small. The live oak will grow in Atlanta, so that's my recommendation. They are fast growers and have some of the strongest wood of any tree. Their growth form in the open is often wide and spreading, with massive horizontal branches that can dip down to the ground and grow back up, on very old trees. Most of the nursery-grown ones I've seen around here have mostly upward pointing branches, which makes the joints weak, so the tree is susceptible to splitting. The really good one here only produces once every few years, so that's a drawback. I wish someone would have put some work into developing some good varieties for food.

I tried cooking some swamp chestnut oak acorns the same way as the live oak, but they were too bitter to eat. I only tried one tree though, and no pre-soaking. Those are pretty slow, but they grow into a magnificent tall tree. In the open, their crowns will be more rounded.

The American Chestnut Federation has a 15/16 American Chinese hybrid that has no Chinese characteristics except for blight resistance. That might be a neat one to grow, if they can do that as far south as you are. I have no idea how long they take to fruit.

Good luck, and please let me know how your project is working out.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2010 at 9:24PM
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We have a couple of huge, beautiful beech trees. Can beech nuts be used in a similar manner?

In years past, we have had a little Asian man walk around the neighborhood with a grocery bag, collecting acorns. I imagine he was doing something like you are. Is using acorns for food common in Asian culture, I wonder?

    Bookmark   March 9, 2010 at 4:34PM
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girlgroupgirl(8 ATL)

Roast and eat the beech nuts. SO DELICIOUS! Beach nuts are my favorite nut of all.

Thanks for your input Michael. My only "issue" with a large oak is that well, it's large. I do have a sizable city property, but we are planning for fruit and food and a huge oak like a live oak might shade things out more than we are hoping for. Swamp oak is a possibility since I have a swamp....:)

    Bookmark   March 9, 2010 at 8:27PM
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I am a zone 6 Pa lurker. When you say Chestnut oak do you mean Quercus Prinus/ Montana? Or the Swamp Chestnut oak? Or the Chinkapin oak, Quercus Muehlenbergii ? Sorry, if these are all trees you aren't familiar with. I have all 3 trees anyway, most are seedlings still. The mountain (drier soil) Chestnut oak that I have drops acorns galore, but it seems like they germinate so fast eating them isn't possible.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 2:48AM
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